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Ritorna Vincitor!
Veronika Dzhioeva (soprano), Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra / Constantine Orbelian
rec. 2018, Kaunas Philharmonic, Lithuania
Sung texts with English translations in booklet
DELOS DE3575 [59:32]

This winning new album by Veronika Dzhioeva is titled ‘Ritorna Vincitor!’ (‘Return victor!’) after the famous aria from Verdi’s opera Aida. For her Delos label debut release, Dzhioeva has chosen a collection of eleven, mainly well-known arias, from operas by four Italian Romantic composers: Verdi, Cilea, Giordano and Puccini. Dzhioeva’s choice of Italian operas with an emphasis on Verdi (six arias) largely reflects her schedule over the last four years, as fourteen of her last twenty productions have been Italian language operas primarily from the Romantic era with ten productions being Verdi operas. Over this period Dzhioeva has sung four Russian opera productions and it’s unfortunate that no Russian arias are included and ideally, I prefer the inclusion of one or two lesser known arias on this type of collection.
Now in her forties, the South Ossetia-born soprano graduated from St. Petersburg Conservatoire and made her opera debut in 2004 as Mimì in La bohème. Since 2006 Dzhioeva has been a soloist at the Novosibirsk Theatre of Opera and Ballet, Siberia and since 2010 a guest soloist with the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow.

Dzhioeva is in marvellous voice and I obtain pleasure from every aria on the album. On this form, I’m puzzled as to why she isn’t far better known. Bright and flexible with satisfying power, the soprano’s voice is blessed with a pleasing range of colours and for my taste her vibrato is generally well managed. At times her enunciation isn’t always ideal and her projection can be slightly uneven but overall, there are considerable rewards to be gained from Dzhioeva’s collection. In Ritorna vincitor! from Verdi’s Aida, the enslaved heroine is tormented by her harrowing choice between loyalty to her father, king of the Ethiopians, and her love for Radamès, a captain in the enemy Egyptian army. Striking here is Dzhioeva’s convincing feeling for the words and how comfortable her voice is in its high registers. From the same opera, the next track is Qui Radamès verrà… O patria mia where Aida waits to meet Radamès outside the Temple of Isis where he is shortly to be married to Amneris. As Aida, agonised that she won’t see Radamès or her homeland again, Dzhioeva creates significant emotion that is extremely affecting, displaying her ability to float to her high notes splendidly. Admirable, too, is Tacea la notte placida from Verdi’s Il trovatore. Displaying her creamy mid-register, Dzhioeva as Leonora provides unbridled joy as she remembers the first occasion she heard troubadour Manrico sing. Once again, Dzhioeva seems completely comfortable in her top register. From Verdi’s La forza del destino, Leonora’s famous aria Pace, pace mio Dio is sung marvellously. With clarity and naturalness, Dzhioeva generates profound anguish, pleading for the peace that has deserted her for so many years. The aria Io son l’umile ancella from Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur has the actress heroine singing of how she is the humble servant of her muse. Here Dzhioeva’s chest voice is clear and open in an aria which superbly demonstrates her impressive vocal weight and rich, largely smooth delivery.

Constantine Orbelian conducts the Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra engagingly, drawing warm and expressive playing, although there is some occasional unsteadiness. No problem at all with the sound quality, recorded at Kaunas Philharmonic, having clarity and excellent balance. I am grateful to Delos for providing a booklet that contains full sung Italian texts with English translations and also a short explanation of each aria within the context of the opera.

Michael Cookson

Previous review: Ralph Moore

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
1. Nel dì della vittoria… Vieni t’affretta! [7:19]
Francesco CILEA (1866-1950)
Adriana Lecouvreur
2. Io son l’umile ancella [3:28]
Umberto GIORDANO (1867-1948)
Andrea Chenier
3. La mamma morta [4:51]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Madama Butterfly
4. Un bel dì vedremo [4:21]
Suor Angelica
5. Senza mamma [4:48]
6. Vissi d’arte [3:15]
Giuseppe VERDI
7. Ritorna vincitor! [6:42]
8. Qui Radamès verrà… O patria mia [6:12]
Il trovatore
9. Tacea la notte placida [4:59]
La forza del destino
10. Pace, pace mio Dio [5:14]
Un ballo in Maschera
11. Ecco l’orrido campo… Ma dall’arido stelo divulsa [8:19]

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